Monday, June 1, 2009

Midi devices and midi control units.

With a fresh post on “understanding midi”, I wanted to add another more descriptive post listing information on some midi instruments, midi devices, and midi control units. Included in this post are some great links to some very informative videos, and links to products as well.

Why don’t I start with Midi instrumentation? What is that? Well, there are quite a few midi instruments available to the home recording enthusiast. Some of these devices include a midi wind controller, midi guitar system, midi guitar pickups, midi keyboards, midi drum sets, and midi drum pad units. These are all midi capable, but keep in mind midi is not noise!

Midi is here to stay, and there are some convincing reasons for this.
Midi is fast and easy to write music with. Editing midi can be either as easy or as intricate as you would like it to be. Midi sounds that are triggered (via a midi device) can be manipulated in many different ways. The sound that is triggered by a midi instrument contains information that can be altered. This information includes the triggered sound sample itself, its’ velocity, duration, note value, volume, and on and on. I can’t think of a better and/or a more precise way of programming and/or editing sound.

Let us start with some common midi instruments. Midi instruments relay midi information (not sound) to a midi device, found either in your DAW software, or in a stand alone midi sound module. The midi information sent from midi instruments triggers “sounds” to be played, which in turn can be played back, edited, or recorded.

The most common midi instrument is the midi keyboard, or the digital piano.

Midi keyboards can either be a full size keyboard (88 keys) or a mini keyboard (having only one or two octaves as a range). These mini units offer all of the octaves for recording use, but you simply must tell the device which octave you wish to work in. Some selling points for these instruments are such things as touch sensitive keys, and midi sounds (samples) included within the keyboard itself.

Most midi keyboards contain no sounds at all, and will not make any noise. They are cheaper to purchase than the types that come with midi sounds (samples) in them. The samples, or sounds for these midi keyboards come from software programs (midi sound files) or stand alone units called midi sound modules. These cheap midi keyboards are great for the budget minded recording musician due to the fact that they take up little room and they can trigger all of the instruments that most of us will ever need. Drums, bass, organs, and strings can all be programmed using one mini midi keyboard.

But what about recording midi information on the fly rather than programming each and every note?
No sweat! Midi can be recorded as sound, in our home recording set ups. Midi information played on the fly and the triggered sound files can be recorded as we play midi instruments. Midi keyboards, midi guitar systems, midi saxophones, and midi drum kits are all capable of this cool recording feature. Lets look more closely at these devices….

Alesis DM-5 midi drum kit

Designed for the percussionist, the Alesis DM-5 drum kits take the programming out of recording midi. Each drum kit comes with a midi sound module which contains all of the different drum kits and like sounds. The drum pads are simply touch sensitive triggers that once hit, triggers the midi sound file that you have chosen to sound. Several different manufactures make these kits, but when it comes to the most “Bang” for your buck, it’s the Alesis DM-5. Here is a cool video detailing what these drum kits can do.

Yamaha midi wind controller.

Yes, you read it correctly, midi wind controller! Yamaha has come up with a very cool instrument here. Blowing into this device and playing the notes triggers midi information to sound. You will need either a midi sound module or a software based midi sound bank to go along with the Yamaha sax. Here is a great video showing a performance of the Yamaha wind midi controller.
Brian Moore “I guitars”

These axes can play as regular electric guitars, midi triggers, or both! Not only can you get guitar sounds triggered via midi, but any midi sound that you want! Piano and guitar duet anyone?

M-Audio midi keyboard

Here is a prime example of a midi keyboard, of a smaller size. These might just fit on the bus, allowing for recording on the go.

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